Study Links Teen Sex To Racy Programs

September 8, 2004 -- Posted at 5:46 p.m. CDT


Adolescents who watch large amounts of television containing sexual content are twice as likely to begin engaging in sexual intercourse in the following year. This according to a new study by the RAND corporation. Experts say this study is the strongest evidence linking adolescent sex and TV.

Researchers studied almost 2,000 adolescents in 2001 and again in 2002. Kids were asked how often they watched 23 specific shows with heavy sexual content and whether they engaged in various sexual activities. Researchers found that shows that included only talk about sex had just as much impact on kids as shows that depicted sexual behavior.

"75% to 85% of kids are never talked to about sex, said Dr. Paul Rhoads of Williams Baptist College. "We live in a sexual wasteland, so where are they getting their information from, TV?"

The study shows that two-thirds of all TV entertainment contain sexual content. Experts say that parents still have the biggest influence on their child's sexual behavior. They also say parents should start talking to their kids before the teenage years.

"As soon as a parent realizes their child is seeing things on TV that may be above their age level for them, they should start talking to their kids about what they're seeing," says Greg Brooks of Southwest Counseling Center.  Brooks also says attitude is everything. "Parents' attitudes about sex have a strong influence on their kids' attitudes about sex, so it's very important parents talk to their kids."